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Oversharing: why experts say what you put on social media can hurt you

October is National Cyber Security Month and the Department of Public Safety is reminding the public to refrain from "oversharing." Photo: GraphicStock

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Everybody knows that one friend that’s guilty of oversharing on social media. But officials say in addition to annoying others, it can also be a serious safety concern.

Sergeant Jeff Plank with the Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the State Bureau of Investigation’s cyber task force says it’s not just friends that are keeping a watchful eye. Cybercriminals are always looking for extra information to determine someone’s habits.

“I shop at the Smith’s on such and such street,” Sgt. Plank said, offering an example. “Or I shop here or I do this or I do that.”

Any information about places you often visit, like home, school and work locations, can be dangerous in the wrong hands. It’s also not just cybercrime that’s a concern.

According to Plank, oversharing on social media can give criminals the knowledge they need to determine when someone isn’t home, making them prime targets for home burglary.

“If you’re going to post about your vacation I would definitely post about it when you get home,” he advised.

He says much like spring cleaning, everyone should go through their cyber profiles seasonally and practice “online hygiene.”

“Do some research online on like what is out there about yourself that you could maybe try and clean up,” said Sgt. Plank.

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. According to Plank, experts categorize safety steps into three compartments: “Own IT. Secure IT. Protect IT.”

Some examples include updating privacy settings, keeping tabs on your apps, turning on multi-factor authentication and creating strong passphrases.

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